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Sonia Gil
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Sonia Gil is host and co-creator of Sonia's Travels, the weekly original web show that cracks the secret codes behind peoples and cultures around world. Winner of the 2012 People's Voice Webby Award for Best Web Personality, Sonia has been hailed as the "next Bourdain." A biologist by training and beach lover by vocation, she speaks five languages and has lived abroad in China, France and Venezuela. Her career as a successful entrepreneur includes establishing Fluenz, the critic-acclaimed digital language learning company where she leads the content team and is the on-video tutor for most of the company's products.

Entries by Sonia Gil

Why Playa Rincon Is the Best Beach in the World

(1) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 5:47 PM

I have been to MANY beaches in my life, but not many have left me speechless. I came to Dominican Republic in search for the perfect beach, and behold - it has been found! Away from all things tourist, on the west side of Playa Rincon.

1. Like the best things in life, getting there is half the fun!

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2. Saying that the water is pristine is an understatement.

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3. It's actually more than just a beach. Less than a stone's throw away is the Caño Frio River, which descends straight from the mountain.

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The water is fresh, sweet and nothing short of magical.

4. I got to share this amazing beach with the cutest kids! The more the merrier right?

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5. There are no hotels, resorts or buildings around. This is simply a local treasure.

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6. If I were to describe pure Dominican bliss... This:

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... is it.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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Travel Tip: What to Pack in Your Daybag

(0) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 11:13 PM

This is a question that you guys have asked time and time again. When I travel, there are a few things that are always in my bag. These keep me out of sticky situations and have made all the difference when I travel.

Baby Wipes

Simple, but useful. Baby wipes have an endless number of uses. Walking around on a hot, muggy day? I use my wipes to help me keep fresh. Using a public bathroom and there's no soap? You'll be happy you have these.

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Pro tip: Make sure that your wipes come in a small package and that they are biodegradable. I like to use baby wipes since they tend to be softer.

Bandaids

There is nothing worse than walking around all day in a beautiful city with blisters on your feet. I always have a couple of bandaids living in my wallet. They take up no space and can make all the difference.

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Scarf

A scarf is a great accessory to always have with you. You can use it as a pillow on the plane, as a blanket, to protect you from the rain or the sun... the possibilities are endless.

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Sunblock

A must! I always put a little bit of sunscreen in a small container and take it everywhere. It's amazing how sunburnt you can get just from walking around in the sun all day.

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Water Spray

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Freshness in a can. After a long day of walking around, there's nothing like spraying some fresh water on you face. So invigorating!

Pro tip: Make sure you get a small spray bottle!

Power bars/nuts

I don't know about you, but being hungry makes me grumpy! Keep healthy snacks in your bag just in case.

Hidden Cash

Take a small pouch and fill it up with cash. You will even forget it's there, but if you get lost in a strange city and need to take a taxi back to your hotel, this can be a lifesaver.

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It sounds like a lot to carry, but all of these items (except for the scarf) fit right in a small pouch.

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They stay compact, you can find uses for all of them no matter where you go, and they can truly be lifesaving.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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8 Reasons Why Monte Cristi Is Magical

(1) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 6:16 PM

There is nothing better than warm, green waters, tropical deserted beaches and the perfect sunset. Monte Cristi, Santo Domingo offers all of this, and so much more!

1. Just hop on a boat and go explore the waters!

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2. Check out this unbeatable view. It doesn't get much better than this.

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3. Want to jump in the water and swim around? Go ahead! You can do whatever floats your boat.

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4. There's something about swimming in what seems to be the middle of nowhere...

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5. And nothing will take it out of you like a good swim.

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6. You know my persistent search for the perfect beach? I think I found it!! El Morro, Santo Domingo.

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7. The best part about having the beach all to yourself? You can do whatever you want!

You can dance around...

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or goof off with friends.

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8. And when you're all worn out, there's nothing like a good sunset to end the day.

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All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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Travel Insurance: Do You Really Need It?

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2014 | 7:52 PM

Travel insurance is definitely not the most exciting topic. It's also not the easiest thing to look into. But, because so many of you have asked me about it, I have decided to do the dirty work for you.

It all comes down to what will give you the most peace of mind. How bad are the consequences if something does happen and you don't have insurance? Here's what you need to know:

Travel insurance breaks down into five main categories:

1. Flight Cancellation/Interruption

2. Medical Insurance

3. Medical Evacuation Insurance

4. Luggage Insurance

5. Flight Insurance

Today, we are going to focus on the three main categories.

Medical Insurance

If you already have medical insurance at home, this is the ideal place to start looking. Some policies will cover you for travel within your home country, but not abroad. Other policies will cover you abroad, but will be limited to certain providers.

For example, there might be plenty of providers that cover you in London, but not many in Timbuktu.

Pro Tip: Ask your provider for a list of affiliates in your destination.

Medical Evacuation Insurance

If you are going skiing, trekking or something prone to accidents in a remote destination, medical evacuation insurance is your best option.

This type of insurance will only cover costs of transporting you from wherever you are to the hospital. Some policies will get you to the nearest local hospital, while other policies offer to take you back home to the hospital of your choice. Of course, the variant here is the price. You will have to weigh your options depending on your needs.

Pro Tip: Rates go up for every decade over 50. This means that insuring your parents on a cruise will differ significantly from insuring your teenager on Spring Break.

Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance

This type of insurance reimburses you for prepaid and/or non-refundable flights, hotel bookings or tours.

Sounds great doesn't it?

Don't be fooled! First, make sure you understand the difference between a cancellation and an interruption. Both terms have different limitations.

This type of insurance can only kick in when major events occur. This includes tsunamis, terrorist attacks, or the death of a family member.

Things to Watch Out For

1. Make sure that the airline or tour company you will be using is covered by your choice of insurance company and policy.

2. There is a "cancel for any reason" policy (CFAR). This option is much more expensive and will not pay you back 100%, but it is definitely worth looking into.

3. Keep all receipts with you! You may have to pay out of pocket and then submit the claims later.

4. No matter what policy you choose, always read the fine print. Sucks, I know, but this might save you a lot of trouble later.

How Much Does it Cost?

The million dollar question. Of course, the cost of your insurance will depend on both your provider and the policy you choose.

At www.squaremouth.com, you will be able to get direct and easy to follow information about all insurance options. They also give you a description for all those confusing insurance terms!

All you have to do is fill out you trip information and leave the rest up to them. You will be able to compare different insurance plans, policies and companies. Also, they give you the option to add something specific and a la...

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10 Reasons Why Santo Domingo is AMAZING!!!

(1) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 9:01 PM

1. Colors, colors, colors!

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2. It's full of history. Home of the first university, castle, cathedral and monastery in the new world!

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3. The food... amazing!!

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4. Nothing like a triple fried dough to wake up in the morning.

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5. Friendliest people ever!! Everyone is so welcoming, outgoing and extremely fun.

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6. I have never seen such beautiful doors. I wanted to take a picture with all of them! So I did.

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7. Home of the residence of Diego Colon (Christopher Columbus's son). There's something about being in a place where so many expeditions and conquests were planned...

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8. There is NO better place to practice your Spanish!

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9. Dancing in the street? Why not??

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10. I made so many new friends!

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All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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How to Open a Wine Bottle with a Shoe

(1) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 12:38 AM

Imagine this... you have set out a beautiful picnic in an even more beautiful destination. You have your blanket, your fromage, bread, your prosciutto, a nice bottle of wine... Heaven. Who doesn't like picnics?

But wait... you forget your wine opener! Luckily, I have a simple solution to this big...

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Sunglasses, Soles and Smart Apps

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 1:39 PM

For my third "Finds of the Month" video, I have found three things that will keep your eyes, feet, and the tech geek in you very happy.

Happy Feet

One thing I always struggle with when I travel is finding shoes that are both comfortable and cute. I don't know about you, but when I travel, I walk a lot. And why let your shoes deprive you of that?

Instead of finding new shoes, I decided to make the ones I already have more comfortable.

These:

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... are Super Feet insoles. They are made with super technology, biomechanical shape and high density foam. Like stepping on pillows! They come in many models and with higher or lower arches.

All you have to do is take out the insole of your shoe and insert the new one. You can also cut the insole so that it fits your shoe size.

They don't work with every type of shoe. There are some insoles that work better with thinner shoes, such as flats, and others that work better with bulkier shoes. The brand Spenco has insoles that work great for flats. Again, just take out the insole of the shoe and insert the new one.

Happy Eyes

My favorite summer find so far...

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... collapsable sunglasses!

These babies are both super compact and super stylish. Every traveler's dream.

They go from this:

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... to this:

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The guys at glasses.com have a bunch of different models and brands for collapsable sunglasses.

Smart App

If you've ever shopped for sunglasses, you know that it's a pain in the butt to find glasses that actually fit. The guys at glasses.com have created an app that does it for you!

All you have to do is create a 3D model of your face, filter the search by brand, price and style, and start trying them on.

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You can try on all the brands of sunglasses that they have and see exactly how they fit you!

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Tip: Look at the instructional videos to see what you have to do to create your model.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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What's the Toughest Thing About Learning a Language

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 3:23 PM

Last week, I asked you guys on Twitter and Facebook what you wanted to know about language learning. These are the top questions people sent me.

Question: What is the best method for learning a new language? Learning vocabulary first, or grammar?

Answer: It depends on the language you are learning and what your first language is.

As an English speaker, when learning Mandarin, vocabulary was super tough. Everything sounded the same to me. Learning Mandarin, for a Japanese speaker, is much easier. Both languages have a similar tone system and similar words.

If you are an English speaker learning Spanish, there are many words that already share roots. Despite everything you've ever heard, English is a good friend. For example, "Un taxi, por favor" is literally "A taxi, please." By relating English word order and sentence structure to Spanish, you're leveraging all the grammar and syntax you already know to learn something entirely new.

Question: How much practice in a language do you recommend to truly immerse, and enjoy a foreign country?

Answer: Again, a very personal question.

When I go to France, I enjoy the culture differently than when I go to Italy, simply because I speak French better than I speak Italian.

In France, my conversations are deeper. I feel more comfortable talking to the locals. I don't have to think that much about what I say because speaking French has become second nature to me.

In Italy, every interaction is a learning experience. I face bigger challenges. I work harder to form sentences. I am more attentive to the locals and how they speak to me.

That is the magic of travel. No matter what stage you are in with your new language, every interaction can be pleasurable in its own way. Don't let not being fluent in a language deprive you of that.

You need to feel the culture: the music, the people, the food, the place. This can't be a chore, a mathematical problem or a silly game in an App. It's an amazing challenge and the reward will be very beautiful so you need to be all in.

Question: Starting from zero, how long does it take an average student to get through all lessons of a new language?

Answer: This depends on the program you are using and the amount of sessions you do per week. A good range is a year to a year and a half.

You need to work on the language every week so you don't lose momentum. The key is to take the building blocks you're learning and create different combinations, and to keep doing it in your head all day long. Try to practice your vocab with the stuff you encounter, try to put questions and sentences together and then try again. Use your iPhone, use flashcards, put everything you've got into it.

Begin with the stuff that's useful, like asking simple questions such as "where is the subway?" Don't waste time learning descriptive sentences, such as "the boy is eating" or "the woman is running" which are seldom part of any conversation.

Question: How did you battle feeling self conscious when testing out your skills on a native speaker?

Answer: This is something everybody battles with when learning a new language. My best advice to you would be don't be afraid to make mistakes. Trying to be perfect will slow down your learning when you need to loosen up. Ignore perfectionists and language purists. Practice in front of a mirror. Don't think about it. The first time you do it, it will be scary. But the second and third time, you will feel much more comfortable.

You have to practice and learn new stuff every single week. Sometimes you'll feel like you're not making any progress, and all of a sudden you'll make a big leap. Before you know it you'll be communicating in real life...

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How to Fold a Jacket to Avoid Wrinkles

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 4:05 PM

This is a short and simple trick that can make all the difference. Ever wonder why men always look so crisp and tidy even after a ten hour trip? Their secret: they know how to fold a jacket. Us women tend to bundle them up, fold them in half, and shove them into the overhead compartment.

My many years of traveling have made me both an astute observer and a junky for new packing tips. And thanks to that, I have learned this trick from the boys. Here's how they do it.

Step 1: Invert one shoulder of the jacket.

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Step 2: Insert the other shoulder into the inverted shoulder.

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Make sure that the lining of the jacket is outside of the fold. This is the guaranteed wrinkle-free trick!

Step 3: Fold in half.

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Voila! No more bundles of wrinkles.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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Why Having a Horrible Accent Isn't So Bad

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 12:42 PM

If you are afraid to plunge into a new language and make lots of mistakes, you'll never be able to learn it. The biggest fear most people have has to do with their accent. And I understand why. How many Parisians didn't try to correct me when I was first learning French? How many language purists don't post on my blogs criticizing this or that minor accent point? The result is that we hear way too much about accent and way too little about what really matters; communication. When learning to walk, babies first need to learn to stand up, then take steps, then learn to walk, and eventually, try to run.

I remember being in China. I had only been there a couple of weeks and my Mandarin was very basic. I was obsessed with sounding perfect and having the right accent. I needed to go to the supermarket, so I got on a cab and told the driver to take me to the "Carrefour" (pronounced jia-le-fu). I was feeling great about my accent, until the driver pulled up at a "Gāo'ěrfū" (pronounced gao-ar-fu) (golf) course.

That's why you should never worry about an accent when you're first learning a language. What you say is more important than how you say it. As long as you are being understood, you are on the right track.

First, get the basics down so that you get some time to practice. You need to put together words, and then expressions. As you learn, what you want is to put together sentences in the new language as if it was second nature, without overthinking it. Worrying about your accent will get in the way of that. After you get very familiar with the new language, then you can worry about how it...

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What Does it Mean to Be Fluent in a Language?

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 6:25 PM

A harder question than you think. No matter what being fluent means to you, it's always something that bothers us when we pick up a new language.

Yes, learning a language can be scary. That's why I like to break it down into smaller, bite size pieces.

By looking at fluency as a process and not as a final destination, language learning becomes easier.

Since I started teaching languages, I have been asked "when do you feel that you are fluent in a language?"

Instead of aiming for fluency, aim to have a strong basis of what you need to be fluent in the section of the language that you want.

This past summer, I was staying at my good friend Rafael's house in Paris when we came across a small plumbing problem. After a painful conversation with the French plumber who knew little to no English, I realized something... I'm not fluent in plumbing French. If I want to remodel an apartment in Paris someday, I'll have learn this side of French all over again.

I am fluent in other sections of French. I am fluent in asking for directions, talking about what I do, talking about my friends and family, and other typical conversations. Sounds a bit weird, huh?

My suggestion: picture yourself being fluent in a particular situation instead of on being fluent in the entire language. Once you conquer one situation, then you can move on to the next...

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Montezuma's Revenge: How to Avoid Getting Sick From Water

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 10:01 AM

There are many things we think about when we travel. Where to stay, what to see, where to eat... But we never really think about water. I mean, why would we?

Here's why: T.D., or traveler's diarrhea, is the most common illness affecting travelers today. Ten million people are affected by T.D. every year, which means that 20-50 percent of international travelers are a possible target.

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This is me at the Yucatan Plaza in Valladolid, Mexico having a "raspado" (snow cone).

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...and this is me having a tamarind icee.

Delicious! But also a T.D. ticking time bomb. This is something you should never do. I have a stomach of steel.

Water related illnesses are caused by three things: protozoan cysts, viruses and bacteria. The most common form of T.D. comes from the bacterial E. coli.

Who knows, you might be one of the lucky few with a stomach of steel! But having to find out the hard way won't be the best traveling experience. Better safe than sorry!

Tip #1. Only drink bottled water

This means staying away from ice and anything that has been washed with water.

Drinks with ice at a restaurant? Nope.
Lettuce? Nay.
Bananas? Yes.
Something cooked? Go ahead.
Apples? Only if they are peeled.

And so on. Yes, it can get annoying, but it's the best way to get around it.

Tip #2. Filtered Water Bottles

If you don't have access to bottled water, or if you don't trust the water source, you can always use filtered water bottles.

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These come in all different shapes and sizes with a variety of different filter options. Plus, it's a more environmentally friendly choice. Bonus points!

All you have to do is fill your water bottle with tap water, and the filter will do the rest.

Two great options are the OKO H2O Advanced Filtration Water Bottle, or the OKO H2O Everyday Water Bottle.

Keep in mind that most filtered water bottles only protect you from bacteria. Anything smaller than that, mainly viruses, will not be filtered.

Tip #3. Water Sterilizers

These:

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... are SteriPen water sterilizers (not vibrators!). Their job: to kill anything harmful in your water. This is your best choice when it comes to water safety.

All you have to do fill a cup with clear water, insert the device and stir. It takes 48-60 seconds to sterilize 1 L of water. If you want to sterilize more, you will have to stir longer.

The blue SteriPen is the SteriPen Ultra, the most advanced water sterilizer in the market.

It's USB rechargeable, with one charge lasting you 50 L of water. The device itself lasts approximately 8,000 L. It also has a little screen that tells you everything you have to do. Fool proof.

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The red SteriPen is the SteriPen Emergency. It works with batteries (hence the term emergency), and the device will last you 3,000 L.

Both kill the same amount of bacteria.

This is the ideal product to have when you go hiking, when you go somewhere where you can't boil water, or if you don't trust any source of water available to you.

Tip #4. Water Disinfectant Pills

This is the classic solution to dirty water.

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Just drop one pill into a glass of water and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Keep in mind that they are chemical based, so this is not something you want to use everyday. But it is always a good go-to emergency solution to have.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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How to Learn a Language Without Burnout

(1) Comments | Posted May 28, 2014 | 1:39 PM

Ever since I founded the language-learning company, Fluenz, I have gotten countless questions about learning Spanish, French, Chinese and other languages.

A question that I have come across repeatedly, and one I think is important to address, is "how much time should you spend learning languages so as not to burnout?"

This is something that you should all take into consideration when picking up a language. Language learning not only requires you to study new material, but to master and absorb it, as well.

Unfortunately, this question has no correct answer. The amount of time you should spend studying a language varies significantly from person to person.

A great way to approach this is to start with a new session every other day. This will allow you to properly assimilate and practice new material on your days off. With a bit of instinct and self-knowledge, I have no doubt that you will be able to determine what timeframe works best for you.

If you start to feel like this is too slow of a pace for you, and you feel that you can sustainably increase your language dosage, be my guest!

The secret lies in knowing when to rest. When things begin to get blurry and when your level of discomfort exceeds your level of achievement, that is when you need to stop.

When this does occur, don't panic! Simply take a few steps back, recap the material, focus on your weaknesses and continue onwards. Remember, learning a language is just as much about the journey as it is about the...

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Locks, Storage and Hygiene

(0) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 2:58 PM

For my second "Finds of the Month" video, here are the three travel accessories that made it to my list of favorites!

Lewis N. Clark Triple Security Cable Lock

Yes, we all love to keep our luggage safe and secure. That's why luggage locks are an essential accessory when we embark on any type of travel. But not all locks are made the same. This lock:

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has double security, and therefore, gives you double peace of mind. This lock works especially well if you have a two-zipper bag. All you have to do is hook each cable onto each set of zippers on your suitcase and voila! Double lockdown mode.

The best part is, if you ever have to leave your suitcase unattended, you can wrap one end of the lock to your bag and the other end to a pole, railing, or something secure! That way, no one will be able to sneak off with it.

Warning: I would not use this lock to leave my bag unattended in the most questionable of hostels. This lock is perfect for an emergency situation where you have to leave your bag unattended for a short amount of time only.

Human Gear GoToob

These:

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... are Human Gear's Go Toobs plastic containers and they are my favorites! They do not spill, they are easy to refill and clean, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. They can be used for earrings, cotton pads, batteries, hair clips, pills, batteries, creams, soaps...

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... the possibilities are endless!

Travelon Toiletry Sheets

Believe it or not, these:

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... are dissolvable toiletry sheets! These allow you to have body wash, laundry soap, body wash and shampoo at the palm of your hand anywhere you go. All you have to do is open up the container:

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... grab a sheet (make sure your hands are dry!)

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... put it in your hand, add water & lather up!

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Warning: these are not the most frothy of products, but they do get the job done if you ever find yourself in an emergency.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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How to Pack for Study Abroad

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 5:17 PM

Hurray! Summer is finally here! As you start to plan those long adventures abroad, it's time to start thinking about what you will be taking with you. No matter how tempting it is, DO NOT fall into the temptation of packing your entire closet!

I have spent extended periods of time abroad quite a bit. I have been in London for three months, in China for six months, and in France for five weeks. So, believe me, I know what I'm talking about. Here is what you need to do:

Step 1: Plan Ahead

Call your airline and find out how many bags you can take with you without getting charged ridiculous fees. Chances are, you will be allowed to check in one bag.

Also, Amazon International is your best friend in this type of situation. If you have a delivery address where you are going, you can get basic items that tend to be larger online. These basics can include towels and linens.

Step 2: Toiletries

When it comes to toiletries, you are only going to take enough for the first few days. This includes a toothbrush, your hair brush, deodorant, and other essentials you can't go a few days without. The rest of the items, including shampoo, conditioner and body lotions, you can get when you're already there.

Step 3: Electrical Appliances

The first thing you need to do is to find out what the electrical current is where you are going. If the current is different than where you are coming from, you will be better off getting new appliances there. Running a hair dryer for long periods of time on a converter -- it is bound to explode.

If you have any doubts regarding electrical appliances abroad, watch my video on electrical conversions.

Step 4: Medications

If you take any prescription medication, make sure to take it with you and to take enough supply to last your entire trip.

Other medications, such as ibuprofen, cold medicine and vitamins, you can find wherever you are going. If there is anything you cannot live without, TAKE IT WITH YOU!

Step 5: Clothes

The first rule when it comes to packing clothes: you need a lot less than you think! Even in our day to day lives, we only use a small percentage of what is actually in our closets. Apply the same concept when packing.

You want to take enough clothes to last you 2-3 weeks total. Remember: you are going to be doing laundry (hopefully)!

For more detailed information on how to pack for long trips, check out my video: http://goo.gl/8LHQSO.

Otherwise, here is a general packing list if you are going to go abroad at a multi-seasonal place.

For Summer:

- T- shirts
- Tank Tops
- Sundresses
- Skirt/shorts
- Bathing Suit

For Fall:

- Two to three good sweaters (sweaters are bulky! To pack these, use compression bags)
- Long sleeved shirts
- Button ups
- One multi purpose jacket
- Pants (Go lighter or heavier depending on where you are going. Preferably, choose pants that can be used for both day and night)

For Lounging Clothes

This is the clothes you will use when you are watching TV, relaxing or studying. Whatever you usually wear for these activities at home - pack that! Lounging clothes should be comfortable and airy.

For Shoes

Do not over do it! Girls, this goes for you guys.

Keep in mind that you will be walking a lot during your time abroad, so your day to day shoes should be comfy. Booties are always a great choice for walking around and a pair of flats are great for more relaxed occasions.

If you are going to a winter destination, take your heavy boots with you on the plane! This will save you on a ton of space and weight. The same goes for your winter coat.

No matter where you are going, or for how long, the golden rule to packing is: STAY AWAY FROM "WHAT IFs"! Odds are, these "what if" items will come back with you...

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How to Fold a Shirt in Three Seconds

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 2:30 PM

If you are a constant traveler (and even if you aren't), you know that time is of the essence. In order to avoid spending precious time folding shirts, here is a trick to have it ready and folded in just three seconds!

Step 1:

The first thing you need to do is to pinch two inches from the collar, and with the other hand, pinch about halfway down the shirt on the same line.

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Step 2:

Then, without letting go, fold the top hand over the bottom hand and grab both layers at the bottom of the shirt.

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Step 3:

Again, without letting go, bring out your bottom hand from underneath.

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And...

Voila. Lay the shirt flat, fold it over once more, and it looks like this:

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All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...
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Makeup Secrets: Exposed

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2014 | 5:59 PM

By popular demand, I have finally decided to uncover my deepest, darkest, most riveting makeup secrets ever!

Just kidding. Unfortunately, I don't have that many secrets to share. But because I tend to use very little makeup, the makeup that I do use, I LOVE! These items have been with me through thick and thin and I'm sure they'll work just as well for you!

Foundation

Even though I try not to use foundation due to my naturally oily skin, when I must, I use Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Makeup.

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This foundation applies evenly, works wonders on oily skin and eliminates spotty areas.

Under Eyes

I cannot live without my Clinique Airbrush Concealer!

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I have tried hundreds of other brands, but none have lived up to this one. It goes on smooth without leaving creases or white lines under your eyes. Also, even if you sweat, it never smudges or comes off! Bonus points! The best part: it has a reflective quality. This really opens up your eyes and keeps you looking fresh all day.

Eyes

I always go very minimal on the eyes. The only thing I apply to my eyes during the day are these Stila Waterproof Liquid Eyeliners.

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Again, these will not smudge! No matter how much you sweat, this eyeliner stays put. Best part is, when it comes time to take it off... it's effortless! Also, they have a super thin felt tip that makes it easy to apply.

Eyeshadow

When the time comes for a night on the town, I might use some Urban Decay Naked Basics eyeshadow.

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It is a small, compact palette that has all the colors I need to complete an awesome look!

Mascara

This...

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... is a winner! This is the Estee Lauder MagnaScopic Mascara. No matter how hard I try to get away from this mascara and try new brands, I always end up coming back to it. It doesn't clump, it's easy to wash off and, again, it does not smudge!

Cheeks

I like to go easy on the cheeks. For my blush, I use this Makeup Forever Sculpting Blush.

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It's super small, compact and easy to carry! Best part is, their pigments are very strong and a little goes a long way, so these babies last you a very long time.

Sunblock

Now this... is my best secret. This product is a Peter Thomas Roth Sunscreen... powder!

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All you have to do is lightly shake the tube until you see powder come out, and brush it all over your face after you have applied your makeup! Voila, you are covered. This is NOT a sunblock you want to wear when you're at the beach. This is just what I like to use when I'm out and about during the day.

Lips

For my lips, I always carry around this Vaseline Lip Therapy.

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These ones come with a little lip tint, which allows me to avoid lipstick altogether! Less things to carry around.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...
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How to Turn Coach Into First Class

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 2:41 AM

We all know it: Flying coach can be painful. There's almost no legroom, you always feel like you're going to get squished by the person in front of you, and customer service isn't exactly top notch.

But guess what? There are magical ways of making your coach experience feel more first class! Who wouldn't want to travel like a rockstar?

Tip # 1

Gain control of your seat. Do not let the airline choose for you. Once you have chosen your seat, if it is not picture perfect, keep checking back! Empty seats open up all the time.

To find out which seats are the best and the worst in a particular aircraft, check out these two sites:

www.seatguru.com
www.seatexpert.com

Tip # 2

Beware of the exit row!

There are always two rows in the exits, and the first row seats will not recline! Now that you know this, why not choose a seat in the row behind it? This way you can avoid those intrusive incliners!

If no seats are available, the best choice is to go for the aisle seat. More legroom!

Tip # 3

Set a seat alarm! Just go to www.expertflyer.com, choose the seat that you want, even if it is taken, and they will email you when this seat becomes available. Genius!

Tip # 4

If you don't have the seat that you want, you can always check for seat availability with the gate agent when you check-in for your flight. You'd be surprised how many times you can upgrade your seat choice!

Now that you have found your perfect seat, here's what you'll need to really boost your coach class experience:

- Neck Pillow

- Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs

- A sleeping mask

Voila! Welcome to first...

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External Battery Chargers

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2014 | 2:50 PM

There is NOTHING worse than running out of battery when you are traveling. Whether it is your phone, your tablet or your computer, these puppies make our travels all the more pleasant. But what's even more annoying is having to carry around bulky cables in order to charge them when they do die on us. What if all the airport outlets are taken? Or worse... what if you're on a 10 hour flight with no outlets at all?!

The solution to your problems: external battery chargers. These battery chargers allow you to charge your devices on the go. I have picked out a few different ones and reviewed them so you can make an informed decision about your own.

Lipstick Chargers

Yes, lipstick. That's what they look like. They are small, cylindrical and compact; perfect to fit into any purse or carry-on. The first thing you need to know about battery chargers is that you actually have to charge the device itself first. After the apparatus is charged, just plug it into your device and charge away.

This first battery charger:

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...is the smallest in the market. You connect the USB charging cable of your device to it, and charge. Done.

This next battery charger:

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... is my favorite of the lipstick types because it's lighter than the previous device, despite the fact that it is a bit bigger. Also, it comes with a super powerful flashlight, which is perfect for reading on planes!

This last charger:

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... was, unfortunately, a disappointment. This device is technically charged through solar power, but in order to charge it, you need to plug it into an external solar power that you buy seperately. What's the point?!

Box Chargers

This group of chargers come in all different sizes. They are still small and portable, however they are not as compact as the lipstick chargers. The good thing about these devices is that most of them already have the cables within the apparatus. Less cables to carry around!

This first model:

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... is great! The particular model itself is discontinued, but this company sells other chargers that work just as well. This one has the cables already in the apparatus. The only downside is that it only works on Android phones. Since I am an Android girl, this works great for me. However, the company has many alternatives that are compatible with most phones.

This next charger:

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... is small, but super heavy! The upside of its weight is that it's able to carry more juice around. When fully charged, this baby can fully charge more than one device! Another downside: the cables are not inside the apparatus, which means you have to carry an extra cable around.

And finally... I saved the best for last.

This:

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... is my new external battery charger. It is almost as compact as the lipstick ones, but it has the cables already in the device! Win-win!

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It has an both an iPhone 5 charger and one for Androids! This allows me to charge my phone and my tablet at the same time! It also has a USB hub you can plug an adapter into.

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

(2) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 12:42 PM

Yes, they do exist! Reality check: Whether you are in a hotel, a hostel, a train or a cruise ship, the place might be crawling with these little critters!

But don't freak out! The idea is not to spend your travels looking like this:

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The last thing you want to be doing on your relaxing vacation is to be on the hunt for bugs! So I am here to tell you how to, not only how to prevent them from disturbing your trip, but most importantly, how to prevent them from coming home with you!

Trust me, I have learned from experienced that bringing bed bugs home with you is both excruciating and expensive! Here is what you do:

1. Check everything

If you have suspicions or wake up with little red bites on your back, check everything! The mattress, the box spring, the seams of the mattress, the headboard, the painting hanging above, the pillow, everything!

Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but if you do see them, don't freak out. Their bites just itch, that's about the extent of it.

2. Bed Bug Spray

Pack a travel-sized bed bug spray:

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Look for something that is non-toxic, preferably something herbal or enzyme-based. Spray it where you sleep, where you sit and around your luggage.

3. Protect Your Suitcase

Your suitcase is a cruise ship for these guys. Do not keep your suitcase on the floor or close to the bed. Instead, elevate it on a suitcase rack or even on a table.

Also, do not lay your clothes randomly on the bed and then put them back in your suitcase! If you do, make sure you place your clothes into a Ziploc bag.

You can even get a suitcase bed bug liner!

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Just place your clothes inside and keep it zipped up!

Another idea is to isolate your entire suitcase with large garbage bags:

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This is the cheaper option.

If none of these ideas work for you, you can always get a plastic suitcase protector:

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4. Anti-Bed Bug Gadgets

Gadget geeks, listen up! There are even gadgets you can use to spot these guys and better prevent them.

Ultraviolet flashlights illuminate spots of blood or carcusses of bugs. Some flashlights even come with a magnifying glass.

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Tips:

This...

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...is a dissolvable laundry bag! Just put your clothes in the bag and put the entire bag in the washing machine. Magic!

Also, bed bugs cannot survive between the temperatures of 117-120 degrees F. That's why there are huge contraptions that fit over your suitcase and heat it up with everything inside!

Bed bugs should never keep you from going anywhere! The important thing is to just prevent, prevent, prevent!

All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana...

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